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Normandie Golf Club in Bel-Nor to close indefinitely

Normandie Golf Club in Bel-Nor to close indefinitely

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BEL-NOR — The 119-year-old Normandie Golf Club will close Monday, according to a message on its website.

The interim chancellor of University of Missouri-St. Louis, which owns the club, said the company that leases the property for $1 a year has backed out of the contract.

“I have requested that the University of Missouri System Real Estate Management Office create and distribute a request for proposal as quickly as possible — with a goal of leasing the course to another management firm this spring,” said Kristin Sobolik, in a letter Friday to the community.

The 117-acre public golf course on St. Charles Rock Road was built in 1901, according to its website. The typical greens fees of $25 made it one of the area’s best golf bargains. But it is also known for a tight and quirky layout, blind shots and rough patches.

In its heyday of the 1920s and ’30s, the course hosted Cardinals players like Dizzy Dean, Rogers Hornsby and Pepper Martin who had homes nearby. Babe Ruth, Bob Hope and Babe Didrikson played there when they visited St. Louis.

UMSL bought the club for $1.4 million in January 2015 and leased it to Normandie 1901, LLC at $1 per year for 10 years “to help ensure Normandie was maintained and operated in a way to benefit students and the surrounding communities,” Sobolik said.

Normandie 1901, a subsidiary of Clayton-based Walters Golf Management, will opt out of the lease in March, according to Sobolik. Calls to the management company, which operates nine area golf courses, were not returned on Tuesday.

Sobolik said she is also “accelerating” discussions with other potential partners about keeping Normandie afloat.

One previous plan for the course’s future was “recently dismissed by the university,” according to the message on the club’s website.

A coalition of business, golf and charity leaders called NormandieFore! unveiled their $20 million proposal in October 2018 to rebuild the club into a top public course and community center for the Normandy School District.

In her letter, Sobolik said the university’s continued interests in the golf course are part of a larger effort by University Square — a community development corporation that is headquartered at UMSL. Redevelopment plans for the area surrounding the campus include a $60 million, mixed-use development along Natural Bridge Road adjacent to the UMSL South MetroLink station.

Bel-Nor Mayor Bill Hook said he hopes the Normandie property will not be redeveloped.

“We’re trying to stay close with UMSL, who actually holds all the cards right now,” Hook said. “Certainly our desire is to keep it a golf course in perpetuity if that can happen.”

The club’s message said anyone who purchased annual passes or other golf packages can get a refund this month.

“We would like to thank all of its loyal customers, employees as well as former owners and operators for keeping this St. Louis golf landmark operational for all of these years,” the message reads. “The short- and long-term future of the golf course has not yet been defined and will be announced at a later date.”

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